CAN'T STAND LOSING YOU
Review by Michael Jacobson
Directors: Andy Grieve, Lauren Lazin
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Cinema Libre
Features: See Review
Length: 83 Minutes
Release Date: July 14, 2015
“Life doesn’t end here.”
I hope most modern audiences can appreciate just how big The Police were in their day. They had a most unusual sound; a little bit of reggae, punk, new wave and pop, without being QUITE any one of those altogether. They were both against the mainstream of the late 70s and early 80s, and somehow, entirely mainstream. They didn’t fit as comfortably with their musical peers as some, but still became one of the most successful bands of their era.
Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police is a captivating look back at the history of this troubled juggernaut through the eyes of guitarist Andy Summers (and based on his own memoir). It follows his own history, up until meeting drummer Stewart Copeland and bassist/singer Sting, their struggles to get noticed, the overwhelming success that both defined the band and devoured it, to their untimely demise and ultimately triumphant reunion.
Andy’s story is interesting in and of itself…I never knew he was a member of Eric Bourdon’s New Animals, for example, even though that gig was short-lived. “Every band I was ever in broke up,” he muses…and of course, that includes The Police.
He talks about their struggles of trying to be a punk band, but being rejected (and literally spat upon) by the punk fans. They just weren’t angry enough…and perhaps more damning, they could actually PLAY their instruments.
He even recalls the night Sting crashed at his and his wife’s place, and as the couple began to fall asleep, hearing him in the next room with an acoustic guitar, beginning to write a strange song about a prostitute named Roxanne. It was the moment that would change everything for the band, leading to their record deal and tours across Europe and America.
And, of course, a lot has been made about the band’s legendary in-fighting, and Andy address that as well. He doesn’t smooth over it, but presents it as matter-of-fact…and frankly, compared to the Eagles, The Police were more like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They were three talented guys with three big egos, each fighting for their own piece of the music.
Sting was the chief writer, the voice, and the good-looking one, so he was becoming the media darling, especially with this new “thing” coming out called MTV. Yet despite this, their success only continued to grow. At the band’s lowest point relationship-wise, they released their final album Synchronicity, which stayed #1 for two months.
The band ended unceremoniously. Sting became a solo artist, and there was never any farewell tour or any closure. It would take decades before the three came back together for a final tour, and the fans couldn’t wait to celebrate this music once again.
And, according to Andy, the closure was indeed final. Those of us hoping for more tours or new records will have to face facts. Andy says the reason is simple: Sting doesn’t want to be in a band. And Andy doesn’t blame him for that.
Throughout the film, Andy’s love of photography is showcased, as he took the pictures that really preserved the band’s history for all time. Shots on the road, in the studio, and behind the scenes show them as they rose and fall. And in the center of it all, Andy remains a great focal point. One of my favorite moments is when he wanders into a karaoke bar in Japan because he hears someone doing “Every Breath You Take”. Andy joins him on the mic. Imagine their surprise when he took of his hat and everyone realized who was doing the song with them!
I love The Police…not for their headstrong personalities, or their unique look, but for their music. This trio created timeless songs that still sound fresh today because they didn’t follow the conventions of their time. And I can understand, thanks to this film, why they will never be again, but I can also understand why we fans will always cling to hope that someday there will be a new record, a new tour, and a new chapter in the life of this indelible band.
As with most archival documentaries, the footage comes from different eras and different sources. The modern shoots, with Andy writing and playing, look fantastic: crisp, clean and natural. Earlier bits are on video, and haven’t aged as well, but that’s to be expected. Some of the bootleg concert footage is a treat, and I’m happy it exists in any shape.
I was a little let down by the audio here…it’s perfectly fine and clear, but surprisingly lacking any dynamic range. There should be tremendous power from the concert scenes to play against the quieter, more contemplative speaking sections, but it all plays out very close to the same level.
The extras include a couple of trailers, a photo gallery of Andy’s work, a Q&A at the Los Angeles premiere, a promo for the Mysterious Barricades exhibitions, plus a featurette on Andy “in his own words” and a commentary by Andy and producer Norman Golightly.
Can’t Stand Losing You is a smart and insightful look back at the highs and lows of The Police through the eyes of Andy Summers. Fans of this band…of which there are still many…should definitely check this Blu-ray out!